Improving Skills in London
The devolved Adult Education Budget hands local government greater control over skills provision – and presents a real opportunity to tackle the diverse skills shortages experienced in different parts of the country.
From August 2019 London’s Adult Education Budget (AEB) will be commissioned and managed by the Greater London Authority (GLA), which published its draft skills and education strategy – Skills for Londoners – in November 2017.
It sets out ambitious goals for London, including a ‘strategic city-wide technical skills and adult education offer’, and the final strategy is due to be published in May 2018.
Here we explore some of London’s skills needs and how the strategy could address these.
Need: Low levels of functional skills are holding many Londoners back, particularly in literacy, English language and numeracy. Earlier this year, the Department for Education reported that 44% of adult learners on English and maths courses did not go on to achieve their qualification in 2016/17. Barriers to course completion included a person’s beliefs, attitudes, personality or perceptions.
Potential solution: The GLA should ensure that providers are able to deliver wraparound support for learners undertaking English and maths courses to improve success rates.
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL):
Need: The 2011 census found that 210,000 working-age adults in London cannot speak English well and around 25,000 cannot speak English at all. Learners can access fully-funded (free) ESOL provision if they are unemployed, but those in work are required to make a 50% fee contribution. Many people with limited English language skills work in relatively low-paid occupations so are unable to afford the fees to attend part-time classes.
Potential solution: Extending the availability of fully-funded ESOL provision would enable more employed individuals to improve their English skills.
Basic digital skills:
Need: Lloyds Bank recently identified that 19% of Londoners do not have basic digital skills, and 4% are offline altogether. This is affecting employers, too; 22% of small businesses believe a lack of basic digital skills among their staff is holding them back from increasing their online presence. In 2017, the Department for Education confirmed that digital skills qualifications would be fully-funded through the devolved Adult Education Budget in London (English and Maths are already included within the national AEB) from the 2020/21 academic year.
Potential solution: Widespread engagement with stakeholders, such as independent training providers, colleges, local authorities and the voluntary sector, will ensure that digital skills qualifications best suit the needs of London’s learners and employers.
Need: Londoners from disadvantaged backgrounds often face multiple barriers to participation in adult education, such as childcare or the cost of transport. This makes it harder for them to improve their skills once they have left formal education.
Potential solution: The Adult Education Budget currently offers uplifts based on a learner’s postcode (based on the Index of Multiple Deprivation). However, a more effective way to target and support disadvantaged learners would be to prioritise specific needs and characteristics, enabling those most in need of support to engage and progress.
Seetec is an established provider of adult education in London. We offer courses in English and maths, employability and soft skills and vocational training (including apprenticeships and traineeships). We are actively engaging with the GLA and other stakeholders to support the creation of a London skills offer that truly meets the needs of London’s businesses and the community.
Contact us today to find out more about adult education programmes in your area.